Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries and forestry for improved food security and better nutrition

This online discussion will contribute to define further the objectives and partnerships of the Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform and to advance the development of its work programme.

In 2017, FAO Members welcomed the FAO’s initiative to act as Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform and requested the Organization to facilitate, in collaboration with its partners, the integration of actions for the conservation, sustainable use, management and restoration of biological diversity across agricultural sectors at national, regional and international levels[1].

Being global in scope, the Platform aims to improve cross-sectoral coordination of policies and practices to mainstream biodiversity by a wide range of stakeholders. The ultimate goal of the Platform is to promote and facilitate the adoption of good practices across all agricultural sectors that will support the conservation and sustainable use and management of biodiversity and increase the productivity, stability and resilience of production systems in an integrated approach.

Biodiversity and mainstreaming

Biodiversity, or biological diversity, stands for the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part. This includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

Biodiversity and ecosystem services are essential in supporting agriculture in multiples ways and at all levels. These interlinkages are increasingly seen as key for livelihoods, welfare, production and development. The Global Environmental Facility Scientific and Advisory Panel has defined mainstreaming biodiversity as “the process of embedding biodiversity considerations into policies, strategies and practices of key public and private actors that impact or rely on biodiversity, so that it is conserved and sustainably and equitably used both locally and globally” . The same document notes that mainstreaming is a long-term process, a social experiment in changing the value structures of institutions and individuals with vital consequences for the natural world and the humans who rely on it. Good governance and strong institutions are key determinants of success.

The first major activity of the Biodiversity Platform will be the organization, by the FAO and the Convention on Biological Diversity, of the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Biodiversity Mainstreaming across Agricultural Sectors (29-31 May 2018 – Rome, Italy).

In the weeks leading up to this meeting, we would like to invite you to help us identify areas of joint action in developing integrated approaches for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Such approaches should aim at reducing the ecological footprint of agriculture, fisheries and forestry, and at the same time, they should allow for an increased production to meet the growing demand for nutritious, healthy food.

As we know, while biodiversity and ecosystem services are critical to agricultural sectors, including crop and livestock agriculture, forest, fisheries and aquaculture sectors, these are also major drivers of environmental change with significant impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. One main impact on biodiversity loss derives from the conversion of natural or semi-natural land into agricultural land uses, followed by the introduction of invasive alien species, including pests and diseases. At the same time, sustainable agriculture practices can contribute to the conservation of biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem services provision

We would therefore be grateful if you could share your insights and examples on any of the following questions. For your information, please also refer to the instruments, guidelines, tools and technical materials developed by FAO and made available in the background documents section.

1) Biodiversity is an important contributor to food security and improved nutrition. Could you share examples/activities in your work where

  • biodiversity is contributing in achieving food security and improved nutrition?
  • the overuse of biodiversity compromise food security and nutrition?

2) All agricultural sectors (crop and livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture) rely on biodiversity and on the ecosystem functions and services, they underpin. At the same time, these sectors may affect biodiversity through various direct and indirect drivers. Could you share examples/activities in your work

  • where a (sustainable) production system played a key role for the conservation of the biodiversity surrounding it? Please provide detailed information you may have or know of and identify the agricultural sector.
  • where a(n) (unsustainable) production system played a key role for the degradation of the biodiversity surrounding it? Please provide detailed information you may have or know of and identify the agricultural sector.

3) Good governance, enabling frameworks, and stewardship initiatives are needed to facilitate mainstreaming of biodiversity within and across agricultural sectors.

  • Do you have any examples of such enabling factors and initiatives or the lack of it? Examples could include Cross-sectoral land use planning; Macro-economic policy and public investment; Elimination, phasing out and reform of perverse incentives harmful to biodiversity; Product labelling and market certification schemes; Green finance and private investment or others
  • Which partners need to be involved in institutional frameworks, policies and processes for biodiversity mainstreaming to strengthen them?

4) The importance of biodiversity for improved food security and better nutrition is not always evident to those engaged in agricultural sectors.

  • What needs to be done to increase awareness of farmers, livestock keepers, fisher folks and foresters, their organizations and the industry of the relevance of biodiversity and ecosystem services for the food and agriculture production in their sector?
  • How can the technical and institutional capacity needed to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce the impact on biodiversity be developed?

We thank you very much for your inputs and look forward to an engaging exchange.


Irene Hoffmann


Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture



Paulo Augusto Lourenco Dias Nunes

Natural Resources Officer

Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department



[1] C 2017/33

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Below are two strategies implemented in Colombia to protect biodiversity, the first are the basic guidelines for sustainable cocoa and the second is the signing of the biodiversity pact.

Basic Guidelines for Sustainable Cocoa - LBCS

The Swisscontact Colombia team has advanced the project "Promotion of the Production and Exportation of Fine Cocoa and Aroma of Colombia - Coexca", and the "Trade for Sustainable Development" program of the International Trade Center-ITC, they developed the protocol of BASIC GUIDELINES OF SUSTAINABLE COCOA - LBCS-, which offers cocoa farmers a tool that allows them to evaluate and permanently their agricultural and organizational practices, against criteria that guide their activity towards social, environmental and economic sustainability; developed with the support of the Swiss government, through the Secretariat of State for Economic Affairs - SECO.

Basic guidelines for sustainable cocoa - LBCS, is a set of evaluation criteria applicable to organizations and their associated producers, which allow to know their progress in the implementation of sustainable practices and the gaps to be resolved in a program of productive improvement and organizational maturity , before arriving at more complex certification processes or as an alternative to clients that do not request them, but want to know the dynamics of the organization.

With the participation of ITC's Trade for Sustainable Development -T4SD program, LBCS has become part of the global platform, where producers and their organizations can access their different modules, presenting their advances in the implementation of LBCS and communicate with different actors at a global level.

This initiative has been integrated into the National Cacao Association of Colombia-Red Cacaotera, which has incorporated LBCS as a strategic element for its internal development, so that the basic sustainability criteria are incorporated into the process of organizational maturity of its associations in Colombia.…

Pact of Biodiversity

In Colombia, the initiative has been implemented to raise awareness among the population about how daily actions affect some of the most threatened species in the country and the measures that can be taken to contribute to the non-affectation of forests; this is why the Pact of Biodiversity was signed in 2017, an initiative that arises from the partnership between the Franco-Colombian Forest Conservation Association, National Natural Parks of Colombia, the Alexander Von Humboldt Institute and Sustainable Week.

This strategy invites people to understand the connection between their habits and species and thus they can commit themselves through the signing of the Pact to change their habits permanently. In addition, they will have the option of staying informed about good practices that will allow them to fulfill their long-term commitments.

To advance this initiative, we have the platform, where Colombians can also learn about the habitat and customs of the condor, the Andean bear or the spectacled bear, the golden frog, the marmoset and the turtle.

In agreement, with Daisy Tarrier, promoter of the project "Colombian biodiversity is exceptional, it is essential to protect this nature, not only for its beauty but for the services it provides. With the Biodiversity Pact we want to show that we can all participate. "

The agreement will be available to the public as of May 22, 2017, the day of the World Day of Biological Diversity.

Does overexploitation of biodiversity compromise food security and nutrition?

With respect to the relationship of biodiversity with food safety and nutrition, I share some evidence from other authors and their own.

Both in the past and in the present, biodiversity is closely related to the food and survival of human beings, so it has been considered that the protection of native plants and animals against environmental and ecosystem changes ensures livelihoods of populations living in environmental conditions and in unfavorable soils for food production. (Rodríguez -Leyton, 2010).

According to Hollingsworth (2015), human beings who inhabit the Earth, use the soil to obtain food, to feed themselves and to conserve life, because there is no other option at the moment; The soils and the biodiversity associated with these are resources that today act as a buffer against climate change, both in ecosystems and in agroecosystems. However, what is taken from these resources to meet the demands of society, through agriculture, goes against the sustainability of the system.

The reasons that lead people not to have a respectful treatment with nature and with resources such as the soil, are mainly Western culture that considers nature and culture as separate.

With respect to the cultural dimension, we must introduce changes in the behavior patterns of people that lead to respect for the soil, its components and in general the life that inhabits it (Feller, 2015).

A study by the Conservation Monitoring Center of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative found that the rapid expansion of cropland is the main cause of biodiversity loss in tropical countries , corn and soybeans stand out as the most expansive crops and as the main causes of the loss of biodiversity in tropical regions. Other crops that pose a significant threat to habitats and wildlife are beans, cassava, cowpeas, peanuts, millet, palm oil, rice, sorghum, sugar cane and wheat, the study says.

Another aspect analyzed by several authors is the scarce biodiversity of concern in the last decades of the last century for FAO, because "only between 150 and 200 plant species and 40 domesticated species of mammals and birds, constitute the supply of food in the last century.

It was estimated that 60% of the calories and proteins consumed by the population come from rice, corn and wheat and that 35 food crops and 29 forages guarantee 80% of the caloric supply in the world's population. "

It was evident that many traditional species of plants and animals are displaced by other improved varieties or have been replaced by more productive crops, with which not only the variety but also the traditional knowledge associated with their production is lost. There are forgotten species used in their centers of rural origin and others that have fallen into underutilization or have stopped being used for cultural, economic or agronomic reasons. In view of this concern, from 1992 onwards, the need to conserve biodiversity was raised, promoting "the protection of traditional knowledge, participation in policy decisions and fair and equitable participation in the distribution of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources for agriculture and food "De Loma E (2008).

Until a few years ago, it was stated that world food production was sufficient to meet the needs of the population, as Reichmann puts it, there are plenty of food to meet the food needs of the world population, for which it is essential to generate changes in food production. the basic political-economic structures. However, the rapid growth of the population, calls into question not only the possibility of satisfying the food needs of the population, but also increases the concern for the loss of biodiversity.

The decrease in biodiversity leads to risks in food production by reducing future options, due to the loss of genetic information and genetic material; "An increasing susceptibility to diseases and parasites because few varieties and species grow over extensive areas, which can lead to dependence on pesticides, fertilizers and destabilization of ecosystem processes, with interruptions in soil formation and in their cycles "

In 1989 the World Wildlife Fund defined biodiversity as: "the richness of life on Earth". With this wealth, it refers to the millions of species of animals, plants and microorganisms, as well as the genes of all of them and the ecosystems in which they live, and which therefore make up the natural environment.

To date, an enormous amount of species has been described, around 1,750,000, but it is estimated that there are still many millions more to be cataloged.

Biodiversity contemplates the biological richness of all the ecosystems, species and genes that surround us, and represents a crucial factor in the natural heritage whose ecosystem services guarantee our well-being. Thus, the various ecosystem components, their interactions and functions favor an optimum quality of life, both individually and collectively, ensuring basic services of first necessity (drinking water, natural foods, ...). Therefore, ecosystem goods and services are a fundamental pillar of local economies, since they have a high potential for generating employment and social welfare. Consequently, biodiversity protection and management policies must be approached from an integrated management perspective, focused on the biophysical processes that determine the ecological integrity of ecosystems, both inside and outside the protected areas, and in the enhancement of value. of biodiversity as a key element for the promotion of models of sustainable development.

Biodiversity is one of the fundamental bases of human nutrition. The genetic resources of animals and plants are the basis for the development and improvement of cultivated plants and animal breeds, to cope with new pests and diseases, and to safeguard their potential for adaptation to changes in the environment and in the ecosystems The biodiversity of native plant varieties and animal breeds adapted to local conditions ensures the livelihoods of populations in unfavorable environmental and soil conditions.

The different forums held since 1992 to promote conservation and use of biodiversity, have faced the problem of erosion of these resources in the framework of respect and protection of the rights of farmers and fishermen. This right implies the protection of traditional knowledge, participation in policy decisions and fair and equitable participation in the distribution of benefits derived from the use of genetic resources for agriculture and food.

The following are the main agreements for the protection of biodiversity:

The Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD), which enters into force in 1993, is the broadest international instrument for all matters related to biological diversity and establishes a binding legal framework for its conservation and sustainable use.

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was adopted in Montreal in the year 2000; The purpose of this Protocol is to help ensure an adequate level of protection in the area of safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology that may have adverse effects on the conservation and sustainable use of diversity biological, also taking into account the risks to human health, and focusing specifically on transboundary movements.

Critical decline of earthworms by >80% in intensive agriculture.


Blakemore, R.J. (2018). Critical Decline of Earthworms from Organic Origins under Intensive, Humic SOM-Depleting Agriculture. Soil Systems. 2(2): 33. [ ; PDF Version: DOI:]. Blog:- .


Kind regards,

Rob Blakemore

Mr. Patrick Kalas

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Moving from “Small is beautiful” to a “Sea of Transformative Change”: Applying a system-wide, country-owned and empowering capacity development approach to mainstream biodiversity across agriculture sector

Addressing FSN Forum Question: How can the technical and institutional capacity needed to promote sustainable agriculture and reduce the impact on biodiversity be developed?

Mainstreaming biodiversity within and between agriculture sectors requires addressing complexities across biophysical, technical and socio-economic levels and multiple actors.

Who will own, drive and be accountable for this mainstreaming process and results, particularly at country level? How can the process become country-owned, sustainable and reach scale? What are the national and subnational capacities across people, organizations, institutions, networks and policies that need to be enhanced?

In line with development effectiveness principles, the proposal is to take a system-wide, country-owned and empowering capacity development approach to enable transformative, country-driven and impactful actions to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity resources.

A participatory and iteractive process, system-wide capacity development means to interdependently strengthen:

  • individual capacities (e.g. knowledge, skills and competencies),
  • organizational and institutional capacities (e.g. performance of organizations, cross-sectoral multi-stakeholder coordination mechanisms) as well as
  • the systemic capacities (e.g. the enabling environment such as sound regulatory and policy frameworks, effective governance, institutional linkages, institutional political economy, networks, political commitment and will).

Practically and operationally, this means to jointly with all stakeholders and across all capacity development levels to:

(a) assess capacity strengths, needs and priorities

(b) define and design contextualized capacity development interventions and

(c) define meaningful results and track progress

General guiding tools, methods, and experiences are available by a variety of development actors that can be further contextualized for biodiversity. This includes, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) such as:

In sum, mainstreaming biodiversity across agriculture sectors will need to address complexities across biophysical, technical and socio-economic spheres. It will require meaningful inclusion of and facilitated dialogue among all actors to nurture trust across sectors and administrative levels. Above all, the process needs to foster joint-ownership, joint-commitment and mutual accountability to achieve biodiversity improvements the planet so urgently requires.

A system-wide, needs-based and empowering capacity development approach across people, organizations, institutions and the enabling policy environment can make a tangible and meaningful contribution towards this aim.


Disclaimer: This is a contribution to the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition on “Mainstreaming Biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries and forestry for improved food security and better nutrition”. It is a personal opinion with reference to institutional approaches on effective capacity development of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

I truly appreciate this forum and the opportunity to share ideas, goals and implementation strategies.  I feel that for global food security to become a reality, a truly global approach to local problems in turn leading to global solutions is absolutely essential.  We must promote all attempts to implement multiple agricultural schemes and solutions to produce food and other natural resource products while insisting that biodiversity is an equal variable in the equation. 

Multi-disciplined teams must operate together to understand and integrate very complicated local situations to solve and divert a potential and in some places a pending food and natural resources crisis.  The difficulties presented by Climate Change effects can only be solved at all levels from UN Forums to small local and family farms.  Examples of agriculture practices that consider and implement techniques that ensure high levels of biodiversity must occur on every continent and in every country for it to have a positive and significant effect on the essential food security issue.  


I want to share some points that are relevant to this discussion from a new paper by Hivos and IIED entitled The spice of life: the fundamental role of diversity on the farm and on the plate (, which focuses on agricultural biodiversity and diverse, high quality diets.

Maintaining agricultural biodiversity is vital in order to meet food and nutrition security and to cope with the challenge of climate change. Improving and diversifying diets is essential to human health and to limiting the spread of non-communicable diseases. Reviving and maintaining diversity on the farm and on the plate requires action on multiple fronts and at multiple scales. At a macro level, promoting diversity entails a shift from industrial agriculture – which relies on monocultures and a small number of crops, crop varieties and animal breeds – to diversified sustainable farming systems. At a national and local scale, it entails raising awareness and stimulating demand for diverse and healthy foods, as markets for diverse crops and animal products need to be supported and expanded. Meanwhile, policies, subsidies, research and extension programmes need to be aligned to support diverse food production and consumption. Finally, the cultural underpinnings of diverse food systems – which are also under threat worldwide – need to be protected and strengthened.

Markets have an important role to play in fostering greater diversity of production and consumption. In developing countries, informal markets are particularly important, and often do a better job than formal markets of linking diverse, affordable foods with consumers. Such markets should be nurtured, to support and improve their operation, rather than trying to stamp them out, as governments often unsuccessfully attempt to do. Barter markets can also provide an important mechanism for poor groups to access diverse nutrients and sustain agrobiodiversity. For instance, a barter market controlled by indigenous women in the Lares area of Cusco province in Peru enables highland and lowland products to be exchanged, enhancing the nutritional security and agrobiodiversity of both regions.

Gastronomic movements around the world have played an increasingly important role in promoting the revival and maintenance of traditional crops and ingredients. For instance, in Bolivia, this has created a small but significant demand for traditional products by chefs, who are working directly with local producers to ensure sustainable processes for the production of local Andean crops. One of the key organisations involved in the Bolivian gastronomic movement is MIGA (Movement of Gastronomic and Food Integration of Bolivia). Since 2012, MIGA has brought together different key actors in the gastronomic food system to enhance the value of Bolivian culinary heritage and promote sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental processes. MIGA seeks to promote the value of biodiversity represented in local and native products, preserving traditional knowledge, seasonality, as well as traditional ways of consumption.

Carefully targeted procurement programmes (e.g. in schools, university, hospital kitchens and prisons) can be another powerful lever to improve diets and create demand for a more diverse array of crops. In fact, procurement is one of the few mechanisms that can stimulate demand and supply for more diverse, healthy foods in a direct way and at scale. School feeding programmes with the aim of improving children’s nutrition are a good illustration of public procurement. Depending on how such programmes are designed, they can also promote local sourcing and a diversity of foods, thereby creating demand for local crop varieties.

India has the largest school lunch programme in the world, serving 120 million of the country’s poorest children. Biodiversity International, the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation and other organisations have promoted the conservation and use of millets, including in school lunch programmes. The substitution of millets for white rice in school lunches in 12 districts of Central and South India led to a 37% increase in haemoglobin levels in children over a three-month period.

Biodiversity is key for rural livelihoods


Biodiversity plays an important role in the functioning of ecosystems (i.e. the activities, processes or properties of ecosystems, such as decomposition of organic matter, soil nutrient cycling and water retention), and consequently in the provisioning of ecosystem services. Preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services contributes directly to human well-being and development priorities, creating great synergies between the 20 Global Biodiversity Targets and the Global Sustainable Development Goals.


Rural people depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, relying on a range of natural assets from their ecosystems and biodiversity for food, fuel and much else. Productive and sustainable agricultural systems need clean water, healthy soil, and a variety of genetic resources and ecological processes. Biodiversity is also important for enhancing the resilience of poor farmers and indigenous peoples to climate change, pests, diseases and other threats.



Unsustainable agriculture is a major cause of biodiversity loss


Agricultural production, as currently pursued, is a source of 24% of greenhouse-gas emissions, 33% of soil degradation, and 60% of terrestrial biodiversity loss. Unsustainable farming practices, such as deforestation, the destruction of wetlands and aquatic environments, and overfishing are key threats to biodiversity. Farming is a major driver of agrobiodiversity loss, too, as the intensification of food production is narrowing the genetic diversity of the plants and animals on which we rely for food and nutrition. Agriculture is clearly associated with all the five primary threats to biodiversity, i.e. climate change, habitat change, invasive alien species, nutrient loading and pollution, and unsustainable overexploitation of natural resources, as identified by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).



We need innovative solutions!


Are farming and biodiversity then inevitably incompatible? The simple answer is, no. But solutions rely on major shifts in policy, practice, behaviours, attitudes, and knowledge to explore how we can do farming for biodiversity. Although the world is far from achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, there are various approaches to direct food systems onto a sustainable path. One of these are voluntary certification schemes, most of which are rooted in organic certification.


Organic agriculture maintains biological diversity


Organic agriculture is based on a holistic approach and sustains ecosystems by:

  • providing food and shelter for wild species and thus increasing them in number and variety,
  • supporting agro-biodiversity,
  • maintaining healthy soils and soil fauna,
  • reducing the risk of water pollution,
  • cutting the demand for synthetic inputs, thereby reducing land-use pressure on natural habitats by the energy industry, and
  • nourishing ecosystems and ensuring that they are not cleared to further extend the agricultural frontier.


Participators Guarantee Systems deliver on all fronts of sustainability and social inclusion


Consumers’ trust in an organic label rewards farmers for their good practices enhancing biodiversity. Besides third party organic certification, needed for international trade in organic, there are locally focused quality assurance systems, such as Participatory Guarantee Systems which can only be used for domestic sales. Producers are certified based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange. They contribute to establishing sustainable and fair food systems by

    • ensuring that the smallest farmers can have access to organic markets,
    • ensuring the integrity of organic products in a cost effective, transparent way and
    • facilitating local production and consumption of organic food.


Biodiversity friendly organic agriculture needs to be promoted by policies


As organic agriculture is a system which has biodiversity protection as its core element, it should be promoted by a conducive policy environment. This can be done in various ways, such as:


  • favouring agricultural research and extension on organic methods, agro-forestry, etc.,
  • supporting the development and use of organic inputs (e.g. on-farm plant preparations, vermicompost, etc.),
  • subsidizing certification to biodiversity-friendly standards,
  • area payment subsidies for organic production,
  • subsidies for agri-environmental practices, such as preserving extensively managed grasslands hedges, woodlands, ponds, etc. on the farm, agroforestry, non-use of chemical pesticides, no/low-use of chemical fertilizers, permanent ground cover under perennial crops etc.,
  • organic management in public areas and publicly-owned land, and
  • prohibition of agro-chemical use in biodiverse sensitive areas.


Another testament to a growing global movement for positive change in behaviours is the depth and breadth of response to the Farming for Biodiversity Solution Search is a testament to this. Through this contest, over 300 innovative and replicable ideas have been identified that connect agriculture, livelihood and the environment.


These game-changing solutions are bringing farming into harmony with the natural environment to protect and increase the biodiversity of surrounding plants, animals, and microbes on the agricultural land itself. They highlight sustainable land use management practices that promote the natural balance and benefits of biodiversity. They promote alternative pest control, fertilization, and waste management to protect water sources and ecosystems. They address human/wildlife conflicts and put in place livestock control measures to protect both flora and fauna. They bring new-found economic benefits and recognition for traditional varieties, knowledge, and practices. They celebrate the potential of youth and women farmers to drive change.


Following the overwhelming success of the contest, we are dedicated the next two years to bringing these solutions to scale – both through behaviour change and technical training for our local champions in-country and through engaging in international policy processes.


Some inspiring solutions that Farming for Biodiversity surfaced and that I would like to share with you include:


  • Our contest Audience Prize Winner, Apis Agriculture from Ethiopia, has used certified organic wild honey to create employment opportunities and provide training for hundreds of landless, unemployed youth in his area. This tackles youth out-migration and deforestation simultaneously, as young people find new income sources and also have incentives to protect local forests.  
  • In Nepal, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research, and Development, has developed a “landscape label” that markets local agricultural products based on the tourism appeal of the local area, Begnas and Rupa Lakes, introducing buyers to niche products to create new demand
  • The community-based Kenya Organic Oil Farmer’s Association – which has a mixed membership that includes women and youth – has a contractual agreement with Earth Oil Extracts to produce Organic and “Fair for Life” (a Fair-Trade standard and certification system) tea trees for essential oil extraction.  Currently, they have trees covering about 500 acres, and each member has between 1-3 acres of land on which they grow a mix of food crops and essential oil crops.



Because land degradation and fragmentation are at the heart of the habitat loss that threatens biodiversity, most of the projects address technical aspects associated with protecting or restoring land, water, or forest systems, often in combination. Innovators employ numerous methods, with an emphasis on organic farming, integrated farming, and conservation agriculture to replace the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and restore ecosystems. They take a better control of waste and crop residues, including turning them into compost, animal feed, or biofuel. They plant trees planting and apply agroforestry, with incentives (e.g., more food production, nutrition, income generation, skills) for local communities to benefit from the sustainable use and preservation of forest systems.


Explore some of these ground-breaking innovations at the recently launched ‘Agriculture and biodiversity solutions’ site of the Panorama platform – and share your own solutions with the world.


Recommendations to donors and policy makers


Based on the above, our recommendations to donors and policy makers are the following:


  • Create enabling environments through policies, social structures, and financial incentives that support biodiversity stewardship with agricultural production such as organic farming.
  • Foster community solutions to farming for biodiversity with enabling policies and funding to support tested initiatives, proof of concept, and new technologies and innovations for community-based and community-driven programs.
  • Invest in indigenous communities, youth, and women as agents of change in biodiversity conservation and agricultural/economic development. Design programs targeting women and older generations who are key in the valuation of traditional ways and the intergenerational transfer of indigenous seeds, breeds, and knowledge.
  • Work with policy actors from local and regional levels to inform and align with national and international strategies for conservation, agricultural development, and economic development.
  • Beware of and eliminate the subsidizing of policies (e.g., support for monoculture, overproduction, high use of chemical fertilizers/ pesticides) that harm biodiversity and its linkages with food production in the name of increased productivity. Introduce the polluter-pays-principle for agriculture.
  • Set up agricultural advisory services and establish farmer-to-farmer learning programmes to scale up and scale out sustainable innovations and to demonstrate that biodiversity and increased food production can, and must, be compatible.
  • Donors, governments should work in partnership with business to fund incentives (e.g., direct payments, academic certification, prizes, other recognitions) that reward environmentally and economically sustainable farming, so that it becomes an occupation of choice.
  • Establish participatory research programmes and human-centered design models, putting leaders and communities at the center of problem solving and change, so that they truly become transformational.
  • Highlight solutions through rewards, scholarships, networks, mentoring programs, social marketing campaigns, and events to encourage young people to engage in farming for biodiversity through strategies that integrate business development, financial inclusion, new technologies, communications, and innovative linkages.
  • Take a cross-sectoral approach in planning and use the ‘Guidance on agriculture, crop and livestock’ of the Cancun declaration on mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for well-being when addressing biodiversity and food systems. Consider how broader social, political, economic, ecological, and physical dimensions (e.g., urbanization, farmland, forests, water sources) fit together and affect natural resource use and management.

Mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture, fisheries and forestry for improved food security and better nutrition

Mithare Prasad 
Assistant Professor (Agronomy), Department of ILFC, KVAFSU, Bidar-Karnataka, India
  • Biodiversity is a broad term in which origin of different species of plants (Crops), Animals (Livestock) and Microorganism are involved in it and also its genera and variety. When the biodiversity is related to agriculture sector it is called as Agro-Ecosystem which include Agriculture and Non-Agriculture aspects in which the aquaculture, soil ecosystem are also part of it. The major field of agro-ecosystem is Agro-Pastoral system, Aquaculture system, Different Cropping Systems and all together called as Integrated farming system or mixed farming system.

  • Integrated Farming System approach: It play a vital role in minimizing the risk of crop failure due to aberrant weather conditions. Cultivation of crops along with different components like Agro-Forestry, Dairy Farming, Goat/Sheep Farming, Poultry Farming, Aquaculture, Duck Farming, Sericulture and Honey Bee Farming will be a great source of generating continuous income per unit area without effecting the eco-system and Organic Farming & Sustainable agriculture is a way of protecting the ecosystem.

  • Farmer should give more scope towards organic farming for getting higher income with by minimizing the input cost. It also have many advantages over conventional farming like; Maintain soil fertility, Soil health, Increase organic matter content of soil, reduce compaction, Increase soil flora & fauna, Increase soil microbial activity, Increase nutrient use efficiency, Increase water holding capacity, Increase ground water table, Prevent soil pollution, Produce Pesticides residue free food, Environmental safe, maintain eco-System and diversity, Ultimately all these reduces the cost of production and increase the Net income of the farmers without disturbing the ecosystem.

  • Farmers should practice LEISA (Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture) to minimize the input cost by reducing the chemical inputs such as Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, plant growth hormones etc which are harming the ecosystem rapidly.

  • Sustainable forming is not just a matter of reducing certain inputs like chemical pesticides  and fertilizers, but rather instituting farming methods that emphasize soil building practices (e.g.: crop residues, animal and green manures), natural pest control ,crop and livestock diversity and crop rotation. Regularly adding to crop organic residues and manures is another central feature of sustainable farming.

  • Biodiversity is an important contribution to food security and improved nutrition, many extra ordinary examples of soil microorganism which play a vital role in soil functions that sustain crop growth. Grassland eco system have abundance amount of micro flora of beneficial organism like bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and algae, which are involved in decomposition and of higher C: N ratio and recycling of nutrients, which are essential for plant growth and food production.

  • The ecosystem has many stages of food and nutrient recycling as in which Primary Producer - Secondary Producer – Primary Consumer - Secondary Consumer - Decomposers. In this process, mycophytic reducers also play important role in the ecosystem.

  • Biodiversification of food and nutritional security: India is the agriculture based country in which 60 % of population is involved in Agricultural activates in which various agro-climatic conditions and zones are involved, comprising for Tropical, Semi-Tropical and Temperate eco-system is present. India is one of the leading producers of various agriculture crops like; Cereals, pulses, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables, spices, medicinal and aromatic crops.

  • Family Farming Approach will be the prominent concept in maintaining the biodiversity and eco-system. Family Farming: It is very old concept but very effective approach in agriculture. Adopting this approach a farmer is capable of self sustainable & self sufficient to feed his family for year round, by which ultimately the poverty is prevented to major extent. Examples:- Growing of (Cereals + Pulses + Oilseeds + Fruits + Vegetables + Fibre + Fodder)

  • Shelterbelts are effective approach in Mainstreaming biodiversity in agriculture forestry for improved food security and better nutrition: Shelterbelts are linear plantings combining trees, shrubs and plants designed to alter the flow of wind or snow, thereby altering the microclimate in an immediate area to make it more habitable for crops, wildlife, livestock and dwellings. Shelterbelts are also called windbreaks, hedgerows, timber belts, living fences or conservation buffers. Few important Advantages of Shelter Belts are moderating effect on temperature & it can increase or decrease the temperature. It retards the evaporation & increases the soil moisture. It reduces the wind velocity and wind erosion of soil. It increases the fruit production by minimizing wind damage.

Benefits of Shelter Belt

  1. Reduced soil erosion by wind: A field shelterbelt modifies the microclimate, mostly in its downwind vicinity. This modified microclimate includes reduced wind speed and, therefore, reduced soil erosion.

  2. Reduced wind damage to crops: Crops benefit from the reduced wind speeds in the protected zone. The plants are less likely to be twisted by the wind or sandblasted by eroding particles.

  3. Increased moisture for crop growth: Shelterbelts reduce evaporation and provide more moisture for crop growth. Field shelterbelts use moisture and nutrients from a greater depth than most annual crops.

  4. Potential for increased crop yields: Most of the research conducted around the world reports yield increases due to field shelterbelts. In drought-prone prairie regions that receive snow in winter, about half the yield increase is attributed to extra moisture from snow trapping by shelterbelts.

Factors affecting ecological balance:

  • Deforestation and overgrazing of range lands.

  • Accelerated soil erosion, Irrigation related problems.

  • Over exploitation of ground water.

  • Indiscriminate use of agrochemicals like chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

  • Deforestation and overgrazing of range lands: Perennial vegetation such as trees and grasses successfully prevent soil erosion and runoff from fallows. Forests influence climate of a region due to their effect on wind direction and hence the rainfall. Deforestation and overgrazing modifies the climate and the biodiversity besides loss of valuable genetic resources used in breeding programme for developing high yielding cultivars.

  • Accelerated soil erosion, Irrigation related problems: Accelerated soil erosion is currently a major environmental problem in tropical and sub tropical areas of the world as a consequence of population growth and demand for food. When once the vegetative cover is lost, the bare soil is exposed to the vagaries of wind and intensive rains leading to accelerated soil erosion. The productive soil is lost, making the soil unsuitable for crop production. Runoff from arable land contributes to nutrient enrichment (Eutrophication) of the water into which it drains.

  • Over exploitation of ground water: Poor quality water is one of the main factors turning good soils into saline or sodic soils. Provision of irrigation, without adequate drainage leads to the same problems as that with poor quality water. Many canal irrigated lands have become unproductive due to salt problems and ground water table. Total area is suffering from water logging ranges between 6 and 8.5 mha while that affected by salinity is around 9 mha

  • Indiscriminate use of agrochemicals like chemical fertilizers and pesticides: Surplus soluble inorganic fertilizers, particularly nitrogen which have not taken up by the plants are leached out of the system. Others such as phosphorus and potassium are not so susceptible to loss by leaching as is nitrogen, except under abnormal condition. Overuse and abuse of chemical fertilizers harm the biological power of the soil.  Use of pesticides to control animal pests (insecticides), Plant diseases (fungicides) and weeds (herbicides) to cope up with crop protection opened the doors for several problems. Exclusive reliance on chemical pesticides has resulted in problems such as pesticide resistance, resurgence, residues and environmental pollution.


I am evaluating the impacts of HYV rice intensification on biodiversity and nutritional supplies in the Mekong Delta. I found that intensification of rice has contributed to reducing in wild food catch: fish and other aquatic animals which used to apply rich nutrition for rural poor households

On the other hand, preserving the traditional floating rice based farming systems which provide habitats for fish and aquatic animals, which supply rich and diversity of nutritional sources for community.

Dear moderators and colleagues,

I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Soil Spatial Ecology from The Sydney Institute of Agriculture at The University of Sydney in Australia.

  1. Our team here value that soil biodiversity is a critical contributor to food security and nutrition. There is no way how to replace its biochemical performance behind soil health conditions (nutrients availability and soil structure, for instance) on which relies agricultural productivity. Unfortunately, carrying out a large scale study across the main agricultural zone (so-called Wheatbelt region) across the state of New South Wales (> 800,000 km2), we found how soil biodiversity is lower in cropping areas and that the extent of this reality varies across different soil types - even beyond other environmental variables and land uses. To assess the real impacts on food security we are now profiling these relationships since a proper measure and a reference is needed for those different scenarios. As indicated by other studies, a decrease in soil biodiversity brings down the soil functionality that would compromise food security if an overuse of biodiversity occurs. A  baseline to estimates those critical points compromising food production should be established for the different soil environments – something that we are developing for this study area.  
  2. In our study, the paired soil ecosystems under more sustainable uses (but not productive ones) such as natural grasslands, forests and woodlands were also assessed in the same sampling points. In these environments, a higher microbial diversity showed up indicating how soil biodiversity is higher under natural ecosystems that any conservation measures would be a contribution to avoid biodiversity degradation.
  3. I know about the local initiative looking after soil biodiversity in New South Wales. The NSW government has defined The Draft New South Wales Biodiversity Strategy 2010–15 which aims to improve and maintain soil biodiversity by promoting and educating in the use of sustainable land practices to keep soils healthy. Globally, my main understanding is on the activities organised by the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative. All of those sectors involved somehow either in the exploitation or protection/conservation of soil ecosystems should be partners for promoting soil biodiversity mainstreaming strength. Producers, landowners, representatives from agricultural industry and experts from multidisciplinary areas to provide scientific support and tool for guiding a sustainable and resilient agriculture.
  4. Declines of biodiversity should be stopped and avoided but there are no ‘values’ to show and tell the extent of this damage. The same lack of references does not allow an economic valuation of this damage to promote protective regulations. There are not standardized references showing, for example, what would be the best biodiversity level to promote nutrients availability or at which level certain pathogens can become a problem affecting soil productivity, etc. Landholders require guidelines on which rely how good o bad or far away are for sustaining biodiversity. Certainly, these references are variable by specific agroecological conditions. This requires investigation and observations encompassing different environments and the development of tools and collaborative guidelines from the different agricultural sectors. This information requires a technical and institutional capacity for its development. This is a developing knowledge that needs to be captured and then organised to reflect the extent of its economic and social impacts that will support the urgency for policies and regulations on behalf of its protection.

Mr. Peter Bolo

International Center for Tropical Agriculture, CIAT

1) Biodiversity is an important contributor to food security and improved nutrition.

Agricultural (cop) productivity and quality of the agricultural (crop) products greatly define food security and nutrition. Biodiversity (belowground and aboveground diversity) greatly influence the crop productivity and quality of products in a myriad of ways.

 Nutrients (macro-and micro-nutrients) like nitrogen and phosphorus are necessary for increased crop productivity. Some of the nutrients are available in limited concentrations in the soil (thus, limiting crop productivity and nutrient balance). However, below-ground biodiversity (macrofauna, mesofauna, and microfauna) often assume active roles in nutrient transformations, involving mineralization, solubilization of recalcitrant nutrients and cycling, thereby increasing their concentrations for crop uptake (leading to increased food production and nutrient balance). 

Certain bacteria and fungi in the soil are beneficial nitrogen fixers, nitrogen mineralizers, and soil stabilizers. in addition, phosphorus, being one of the most limiting nutrients, is often mineralized, solubilized and mobilized by fungi (specifically arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF)), contributing to increased nutrient availability for plant use. Besides, AMF also helps alleviate drought stress, pests and disease control, BNF, and detoxification of soil pollutants among others, therefore enabling for increased food productivity and nutritive balance in crops. In our study, we noted that the activities of phosphorus mineralizing organisms (enzyme phosphomonoesterases) increased where there was an inadequacy of available phosphorus; and where the soil was more acidic. This implies increased mineralization/solubilization of phosphorus to meet the crop demands (and contribute to improved food nutrition) in such systems, an aspect facilitated by the biodiversity. 

However, it is important to note that a number of agricultural practices (poor agricultural management practices) can greatly threaten the biodiversity structure and composition; abundance and functions. For instance, removal of residues from the farm after harvesting, sole application of inorganic fertilizers without any soil amendments, and practicing conventional tillage, greatly impaired microbial proliferation and activities.  However, practicing conservation agriculture was associated with increased microbial abundance, diversity, functions, and enzyme activities, increased soil aggregate stability and improved crop yields...aspects that were directly positively correlated with the microbial abundance. 

These collectively point towards the connection existent between biodiversity, food security and improved nutrition.